Hi Ying and Fu Ching … a couple of phantom Chinese cruisers

Two Chinese warships appear in Antoine Vanner’s BRITANNIA’S SPARTAN: THE DAWLISH CHRONICLES: JUNE 1859 AND APRIL – AUGUST 1882 … the Hi Ying and the Fu Ching. Interestingly these were the names of two of the four cruisers that were reported to be being built in Chinese shipyards as copies of the German-built Nan Shui and Nan Ch’en.

The particulars of the Nan Shui and Nan Ch’en were as follows:

  • Displacement: 2,200 tons
  • Length: 275′ 6″ (83.9m) overall
  • Beam: 37′ 6″ (11.4m)
  • Draught: 18′ (5.5m) maximum
  • Propulsion: 1 x Steam reciprocating engine driving one propeller, 8 boilers, 2,400 IHP
  • Speed: 15 knots
  • Complement: 250
  • Armament: 2 × 8.2-inch Armstrong RBL guns; 8 x 4.7-inch Armstrong RBL guns; Hotchkiss QF guns
  • Armour: Cork waterline belt

In the book, the description of the fictional Fu Ching matches very closely that of the British-built cruisers Chao Yung and Yang Wei.

These were designed by Sir George Rendel (the designer of the famous Rendel or ‘flat-iron’ gunboats) and build by Armstrongs at their Mitchell & Co. shipyard. The particulars of the Chao Yung and Yang Wei were as follows:

  • Displacement: 1,350 tons
  • Length: 220′ (64.3m) overall
  • Beam: 32′ (9.75m)
  • Draught: 15′ 6″ (4.7m) maximum
  • Propulsion: 2 x Six-cylinder steam compound engines driving two propellers, 8 boilers, 2,600 IHP
  • Speed: 16 knots
  • Complement: 140
  • Armament: 2 × 10-inch Armstrong RBL guns; 4 x 40-pdr Armstrong RBL guns; 4 x 37mm Hotchkiss QF guns; 2 x 4-barrel 0.45-inch Nordenfeld MGs; 4 x 5-barrel 0.45-inch Gatling MGs
  • Armour: Turrets: 1″; Control Tower: 0.5″; Deck: 0.25″
  • Notes: Also carried 2 x 9-pdr boat and landing guns

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